North Berwick on top at Christmas
History shows the league leaders at Christmas have gone on to claim the title in each of the past three seasons, and after more twists and turns this weekend it was North Berwick that moved into top spot in Division 1 heading into the break.
The move came courtesy of a narrow home win over Royal Musselburgh, a welcome boost to the 2013 champions’ title hopes after they had taken just one point from two encounters with contenders Gullane earlier this month.
However Royal remain very much in the title race. Their 100% record may be gone but they end the year just a point behind the leaders, with a superior goal difference and with a game in hand. But that game in hand is away to Gullane and converting it into league points will be challenging. The defending champions have lost only once in the league in three seasons and are the third team left with a realistic chance of lifting the title.
The top three all face tricky away matches to tee off the New Year, before the delayed Gullane vs Royal match brings the fixture list up to date on 17th January. In truth it’s still too close to call a favourite for the 2015-16 title, and the only certainty is that the race is set to go all the way to the end of the season.
In the other half of the table Musselburgh can breathe just a little easier. Their hard fought encounter at Gullane ended in a draw, though they had looked set to claim both points before being thwarted by a spirited finish from the home team. But Tantallon’s success at Longniddry meant Alex Chisholm’s team moved a couple of points clear of the relegation line, and they can perhaps now consider their resultat Gullane a point gained rather than a point lost.
Haddington brushed aside Musselburgh Old in the only Division 2 match on this weekend’s schedule and in doing so moved into the second promotion spot behind Craigielaw. The Racetrack can be a difficult place to visit and Darryl Souness will be happy to get that one out of the way, with the maximum points difference an added bonus.
The top four in the lower flight are due to face up to each other on January 24th, the 2nd Division’s Championship day. If Kilspindie, Gifford and Haddington can each safely negotiate a home match before then there will be no more than a single point separating these four teams, and each one of them in control of their own promotion chances going into that final round.
All to play for in the New Year and Season's Greetings to all in the meantime.